(20 September 2009) Michelle Hotaling's Chained By Dreams (Michelle Hotaling (USA) 6 16892 87302 0, 2006) drew significant attention from the music press and fans of female vocalists alike. Known for her crystalline voice, rocking arrangements, as well as her modelling gigs, the New York-based singer songwriter has expanded her following through regular touring of the NYC venues including The Bitter End. Michelle distributed two seasonal tracks in late 2008 as a teaser for her new release.
Her long awaiting follow-up is the Sweet Clarity EP. Produced by Scott Slater, the five track collection demonstrates a significant stylistic shift in Michelle's material from rock to singer songwriter. Arrangements are gentler, lightly orchestral and more acoustic yet the material is clearly stamped with the trademark of Michelle's crystalline voice both in lead and backing vocal parts.
The EP opens with the upbeat track "Childhood Dreams." Michelle's stunning lead glides above the pop-oriented arrangement. Her thick multi-layered harmonies add great texture in the chorus adding to the overall accessibility of the song. "Awakening" drops right into singer songwriter territory. Lightly arranged with acoustic guitars and piano, the material is evocatively delivered with Michelle's lead and backing vocal. The piano- and string-based arrangement behind Michelle's voice in "Something Deep" provides a foundation that makes her voice glisten. As the song builds intensity, the evolution of Michelle's material is most evident in the acoustic arrangement of this track.
A jazzy vibe resulting from the fantastically delivered muted trumpet and overall rhythm provides the backdrop for Michelle's multi-layered vocal in "Future Former," and stylistically breaks away from her former material. Listen for the sheer power Michelle can produce with her vocal work in the track. The EP concludes with the title track. "Sweet Clarity" is a very gentle ballad, sung stop piano and light string arrangements. Even at the softest end of her delivery, Michelle's crystalline voice draws the listener into her web. The harmonies, acoustic guitar and keyboard washes add a great texture as the closing track develops. Listen for the electric guitar underneath.
Michelle Hotaling's five track Sweet Clarity EP is a great demonstration of the artist's progress since her stunning debut album Chained By Dreams. Delicately produced and featuring Michelle's sweet vocal work and wonderful arrangements, the EP delivers a taste of what to expect on her next full length album. Catch one of Michelle's live shows soon.
The EP is currently available as a digital download at iTunes although we expect physical copies of the EP to be available at Michelle's shows and from her website shortly. Also pick up Chained By Dreams.